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Houseplants that are safe for cats and dogs

Houseplants That Are Safe for Cats and Dogs

Houseplants are a beautiful addition to any home, bringing life and colour to your space – although choose which ones you want carefully, as some can be harmful to pets.

We look at some of the best houseplants for cats and dogs, as well as what to avoid when it comes to adding greenery to your pet-friendly residences…

Safe Houseplants for Cats and Dogs

The importance of researching pet-friendly houseplants cannot be overstated. Pets cannot distinguish between toxic and non-toxic flora, so it’s up to you – their owner – to make informed choices about what greenery you’re going to have in your home.

Types of plants that are safe for cats and dogs include:

  • Money tree
  • Hibiscus
  • Spider plant
  • Bamboo
  • Certain herbs – including basil, dill, sage and rosemary

However, just because a plant isn’t toxic to cats and/or dogs, doesn’t mean it won’t still make them sick. Be sure to keep any pots or trays containing houseplants out of their reach to avoid any unpleasant incidents.

Common House Plants Poisonous to Pets

Much in the same way as humans, cats and dogs can also be extremely allergic to certain plants, grasses, pollens and other substances – and you will need to steer clear of them when choosing which flora you’d like to include in your household. Some common species to avoid are:

  • Lantana
  • Philodendrons
  • Poinsettia
  • Dumbcane
  • Hyacinths
  • Mistletoe
  • Easter lily

If you’re concerned that your pet has ingested a poisonous plant or happen to notice any signs of poisoning – such as vomiting, drooling, diarrhoea, disorientation or even collapsing – then take them to the vet immediately.


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What to do if you suspect your pet has been poisoned

My pet’s been poisoned, what should I do?

Pet poisonings are one of the most common emergencies our vets and vet nurses see — and statistics show around nine in 10 of these happen while pets are in their own home. During certain holiday seasons — such as winter and Easter — cases go up considerably, often as a result of chocolate ingestion or cats and dogs eating foods infused with raisins, sultanas and currants. Antifreeze poisoning is another common emergency.

If you’re worried that your pet has been poisoned call your vet immediately.

Signs of pet poisoning

Inhaled poisons

Coughing, drooling, difficulty breathing, unconsciousness or coma.

Swallowed poisons

Can cause gastrointestinal irritation, vomiting, diarrhoea, restlessness, staggering, disorientation, convulsions, lethargy, loss of appetite, twitching, dilated pupils, ulcers, heart palpitations, and coma.

Contact poisons

Chemicals or plants that come into contact with your pet’s skin can cause irritation.  You may see signs of discomfort, agitation, excessive scratching or licking, swellings (hives) or pain. If severe, skin can appear red and ulcerated or bleeding under the coat.

What steps should I take if my pet has been poisoned?

Try to make a note of the toxin’s name, strength and the amount your pet has ingested or been exposed to. It would also be handy to give the vet your pet’s approximate weight. You should:

  • get your pet to fresh air if the poisoning is primarily from noxious fumes or gas, but don’t put yourself at risk
  • wear protective gloves and remove the substance from the skin if poisoning is through contact
  • use paper towels or clean rags to remove liquids
  • never use water, solvents or anything else to remove the poison unless specifically directed to do so by your vet
  • never induce vomiting even if you know the poison was swallowed, unless you’ve been specifically directed to do so, as some poisons can cause more damage if vomiting occurs than if left in the stomach
  • in the event your vet does advise you to remove the poison use soap or washing up liquid and rinse with lukewarm water to avoid lowering the body temperature

What should I expect at the vets?

Diagnosis can usually only be made if you have observed your pet eating a toxin. It’s impossible to test for all toxins and for some there is no test available. Other tests may be done to assess the function of your pet’s internal organs and other health parameters.

What will the treatment involve?

If your vet knows the poison, they may be able to give an antidote, although not all poisons have antidotes. If the type of poison is uncertain, or there is no antidote, they’ll treat the symptoms to maintain normal function of the organs until the poison has been processed out of the body. Unfortunately, for some poisons, your pet may not survive.

How can I prevent my pet being poisoned?

There are some basic rules pet owners should adhere to prevent their pet being poisoned. These include:

  • keep your pet away from areas where chemicals and toxins are being used, such as the kitchen, bathroom or garage
  • ensure all chemicals are safely contained and stored out of reach of inquisitive paws and noses when not in use
  • do not keep poisonous plants in or around your home
  • keep an eye out for poisonous plants when taking your dog outside
  • follow instructions on insecticides and rodenticides carefully
  • keep human and pet medications stored in a safe and secure location
  • label medications carefully
  • keep count of how many are in each container as this information will be extremely useful in case of ingestion or an overdose

Pet dental health

The importance of Pet Dental Health Month

The objective of pet dental health month is to make pet owners aware of the importance of their pets oral health.

Regularly brushing your dog’s teeth and giving them a healthy diet and plenty of chew toys can help keep their mouths healthy. Did you know that a large percentage of dogs can show signs of gum disease by the age of four?

Below are some top tips to look after your dog’s oral health.

Breath test

Sniffing your dog’s breath, it is normal for doggie breath to not be fresh-smelling. However, if it has a really offensive smell and your dog has lost its appetite, is drinking excessively, urinating a lot or vomiting. It is certainly a sign that you should take your dog to the vet to get checked out.

Examining the teeth & gums

Once a week, you should examine your dog’s teeth and gums. Gums should be pink, not red or white and there should be no signs of swelling. Your dog’s teeth should be clean without any brownish tartar.

Signs of oral disease

Signs that your dog could be suffering from a mouth or gastrointestinal issue are:

  • Bad breath
  • Excessive drooling
  • Gums which are inflamed
  • Tumours in the gums
  • Cysts underneath their tongue
  • Loose teeth

Tooth decay

Bacteria and plaque-forming foods over time can cause build up on your dog’s teeth. Over time this hardens into tartar, which can cause gingivitis, receding gums and even tooth loss.

You can buy a toothbrush especially for dogs, your vet will be able to advise you on this and toothpaste which is specially made for canines. A special mouthwash is also available to ask for details.

Brushing techniques

Yes, there is a brushing technique for cleaning your dog’s teeth. Place the brush at a 45-degree angle to the teeth and clean in small circular motions. You need to work one area of your dog’s mouth at a time, lifting their lips if necessary. Generally, the side of the tooth which touches the dog’s cheek tends to have the most tartar, giving a downward stroke can help to remove it. Once you get the technique right try to brush two to three times per week.


Chew toys can help satisfy your dog’s natural desire to chew, at the same time helping to make their teeth strong. By gnawing on a chew toy can also help to massage the gums and help scrape away soft tartar. Your vet will be able to advise you on the best toys and chews for this.


Specially formulated dry foods can help reduce the formation of plaque and tartar. Also, special treats are available which are formulated to keep your dog’s teeth healthy, again your veterinary surgeon will be able to advise on the best products for this.

How we can help here at Orchard House Vets

We have invested in the latest equipment to provide patients with an excellent level of dental care.

With our new digital dental X-ray systems, an x-ray can be taken immediately to diagnose any problems hopefully before they arise.  In addition, this allows us to view the crown of the tooth and root structure including the overall health of the tooth itself and its surrounding area. Furthermore, dental radiographs are taken where necessary in order to reduce any complications ensuring your pet gets the optimal dental care.

Finally, our vast amount of equipment for dental care includes a high-speed drill, low-speed polishing device, which has ultrasonic scaling capabilities and hand instruments for all sizes of pets large or small.

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